SNAICC applauds the leadership of Queensland Minister for Education, Kate Jones, who says the state Government will find the money to keep 10 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child and Family Centres (Centres) open around the state.
The Centres in Queensland are amongst 38 centres built around the country in recent years as part of the Closing the Gap partnership agreement between federal and state governments. All 38 centres have faced uncertainty, with Australian Government funding for the centres discontinued in 2014.
Speaking to ABC News, Ms Jones said the Federal Government had failed to honour its funding commitments, declaring the Queensland Government would not let the state’s Centres close their doors.
“What we know is it costs $10 million a year to run these centres in Queensland and instead of getting that funding in partnership from the Federal Government they have walked away,” Ms Jones said.
“So absolutely the plan is to transition to the states [funding the ongoing costs] in the future but that was after an evaluation of how they were operating and how they could be funded sustainably – that is what has failed to happen.”
“Right now I’m in discussions with the [state] Treasurer about how I can secure that funding so we don’t disrupt the services anymore than what they’ve had to suffer,” Ms Jones said.
Manager of the Ngukuthati Children and Family Centre in Mount Isa, Monica Thomas, had been faced with the likelihood that the centre would have to cease operating on 30 June when their temporary funding agreement expired.
“I have the most wonderful team working under me, and not one of those are guaranteed a job after June 30,” Ms Thomas said.
“We work fairly tightly with child safety, with every other agency in town that’s working with helping and protecting children…the families trust us and it’s taken two years to build that relationship with the community.”
To hear further insights from more from the Ngukuthati Children and Family Centre in Mount Isa, as well as more from Minister Jones, visit the ABC News website.
Thankfully, Ngukuthati Children and Family Centre no longer faces this crisis. For many other centres across the country, however, threat of closure still looms.
To read more on the impact of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child and Family Centres, and what is needed to enable them to continue their critical service supports to children and families, visit the SNAICC Policy hub.
For more information on SNAICC’s work supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Family Centres, or to get involved, please email Emma Sydenham at firstname.lastname@example.org.